The Board of Trustees is committed to providing students at Te Aro School with the opportunity to learning Mandarin and participate in Chinese cultural studies. Each week students across the school have a lesson in Mandarin language and Chinese cultural studies. There is a weekly Chinese Culture Club where children participate in activities such as learning calligraphy, enjoying Chinese movies and learn Chinese songs and dances. Our Fan Dance group practice once a week in preparation for performing at school and community events such as our annual mid-Autumn festival celebration and the Thorndon fair.
With a strategic goal in cultural inclusiveness, Chinese studies began at Te Aro in 2009 with Mandarin lessons for Year 7 and 8 children. In 2010 this programme was extended to Year 3-8 children. All teachers learn Mandarin alongside their students and there is a weekly lesson for staff after school. The programme is greatly supported by the MLAs (Mandarin Language Assistants) who have worked full time at Te Aro since 2015.
Annual celebrations are an important part of our Chinese cultural programme including celebrating Chinese New Year and the mid-Autumn moon festival. We celebrate the moon festival in the evening in September with the school community. This celebration usually coincides with Chinese Language Week. During this week students are encouraged to speak as much Chinese as they can when both at home and school by participating in a Mandarin-a-thon.
By the end of Year 8 we hope our students have a basic understanding of Mandarin language and Chinese culture. It is hoped that as graduating students many of them will then carry this language learning on into secondary school.
The school’s Chinese language and cultural studies have been a focus of a research programme on the development of Asia awareness in New Zealand schools. For more information about this research project, please visit Asia New Zealand Foundation Te Aro School Case Study
Quotes from students about learning Mandarin at Te Aro School:
Why do you think it’s useful to learn Chinese and about Chinese culture?
“…it’s good to learn other languages and it’s just fun to learn. If you go to another country you’ll be able to try lots of different things and you’ll know the language. It helps you be braver in new places.”
“It’s good to learn Chinese because if you go to China, it would be useful plus when people come here, we can talk with them. It is interesting to learn about other cultures.”
“…because we can speak Mandarin if we go to China but also it’s because it’s fun – we make lanterns and we make Chinese friends.”
“…you can communicate with other people that speak Chinese. Even if you go to China you can speak to them.”
What do you enjoy about learning Chinese and about Chinese culture?
“I like every part!”
“Playing games is really fun. Learning new things – food and colours. It’s interesting how some of the words are similar to English. Learning about the mid autumn festival – doing fan dancing at the Lights Festival.”
“I really enjoy doing all the festivals – Lights Festival and experiencing different cultures. I like learning about the history of the different festivals.”
“I love when we do songs, we sing them and do the actions.”
“Playing games is really fun. Learning new things – food and colours. It’s interesting how some of the words are similar to English. I enjoyed learning about the mid autumn festival and doing fan dancing at the Lights Festival.”